A new energy system is emerging. The Paris Agreement has sent a signal around the world: climate change is a serious issue that governments are determined to address. By 2070 there is the potential for a very different energy system to emerge.

The Sky Scenario outlines what we believe to be a technologically, industrially, and economically possible route forward, consistent with limiting the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C from pre-industrial levels. It reveals the potential for an energy system to emerge that brings modern energy to all in the world, without delivering a climate legacy that society cannot readily adapt to.

Sky shows a transformation to a lower-carbon energy system, with the world achieving the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. Consumers, companies and governments will face tough choices and the paths towards lower-carbon energy will vary by country and sector. Over the course of 50 years, it transforms the way society uses and produces energy.

But while encouraging news, success towards the Paris Agreement aim is not guaranteed. The Sky Scenario relies on a complex combination of mutually reinforcing actions by society, markets and governments. It recognises that the necessary changes will unfold at different paces in different places, and must ultimately transform all sectors of economic activity. The changes are economy-wide, sector-specific, and amount to re-wiring the global economy in just 50 years.

The numbers behind Sky

Download the Sky Scenario data-set to see the numbers that help test, quantify and explore this scenario.

Shell has been developing energy-focused scenarios for almost 50 years, helping generations of Shell leaders, academics, governments and business leaders to consider possible pathways when making decisions.

Typically, Shell Scenarios are plausible and challenging visions of the future. They consider real and potential trends in politics, demographics and technology. They stretch our thinking and help society make crucial choices and navigate critical uncertainties.

Sky joins two other scenarios in Shell’s New Lens Scenarios family: Mountains and Oceans.

Mountains and Oceans explore alternative socio-political pathways and their impact on energy developments, with emissions as an open-ended outcome. Sky also adopts an approach grounded in the reality of current economic and policy development mechanisms, but then progressively becomes driven simply by the ambitious goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070 within techno-economic possibilities. Such a goal-driven scenario is sometimes referred to as “normative”.

By adopting a modelling approach grounded in the current reality of the energy system, but then combined with a specific long-term goal, Sky is intended to be both an ambitious scenario and a realistic tool to inform dialogue.

Scenarios are not policy proposals – they do not argue for what should be done, nor forecasts – what will be done. They are not predictions, nor business plans, and investors should not rely on them to make decisions.

Scenarios can reveal useful insights and show us potential pathways the world might take. Some pathways are more plausible than others, but all challenge society to make tough decisions.

At Shell, we hope this contribution is helpful to finding solutions.

More in Shell Scenarios

What are Shell Scenarios?

Shell has been a pioneer in developing scenarios to explore the future and deepen its strategic thinking for almost 50 years. 

New Lens on the Future

Our New Lens Scenarios explore two possible ways the 21st century could unfold, with dramatically different implications for society and energy. 

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